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Further confirming that a restart of operations is unlikely to occur in the immediate future, plant operator Southern California Edison is preparing to remove tons of nuclear fuel from the Unit 3 reactor at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Unit 3 was the reactor that initially began leaking small amounts of radioactive steam into the atmosphere in late January, causing an emergency shutdown of the reactor as well as at its twin, Unit 2. Unit 1 was decommissioned in the early 1990s.

While hundreds of tubes in the recently replaced Unit 2 generator were found to have excessive wear, none had burst at the time of shutdown. It’s widely considered that, due to the lower incidence of problems, an earlier restart will be attempted there.

Union of Concerned Scientists director Dave Lochbaum, however, questioned the motives of the removal of fuel from Unit 3 in a Associated Press story. He says moving the fuel to storage allows for less safety equipment to be maintained in operable condition, and for fewer safety tests to be performed.

Last week Edison announced it would lay off up to a third of the San Onofre workforce as the shutdown continues.

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